Our life isn’t meant to be safe

January 15, 2022

(Thomas Froese Photo)

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(The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, January 15, 2022)

So here we are in a shiny new year – Happy New Year, by the way – and what comes to mind but the darn cemetery. It’s a fine cemetery, really, historic and beautifully-terraced and a refreshing morning walk.

Most mornings I’m there with the dog. There we go through the park, past the rink where children laugh, then past the woods where the dog sniffs dead leaves and then does her, you-know. Then it’s up the wooden stairs to said cemetery where said dog – you’ll recall her name is Grace – loves to run through the tombstones. If there’s snow, even better.

You’ll laugh, but my bride and I – we’re not that old – have already purchased our burial plot. I like to plan, you know? I mean, you might cross some road and get hit by a milk truck. Just saying. Today’s danger is due to, well, lots of things.

Consider dangerous places you should never visit, like, say, Afghanistan, or Yemen (okay, we lived there for a few years), or Syria. In 2021, these three are, in the Global Peace Index, the world’s least peaceful nations. Iceland (Iceland?!) apparently is now the world’s most peaceful country, with low crime, strong social supports, and the classes getting along swimmingly well.

Canada is 10th in this particular ranking. And the U.S.? It’s now the 122nd most peaceful country. Hmm.

But let’s get real. Is anyone safe anywhere? True, a few tiny specs, ocean islands, report no COVID-19, or herd immunity. Even so, the world’s biggest danger remains the human heart. Yes, heart disease, by far, is the biggest people killer. Then stroke. About one-in-four deaths worldwide are from these, understandable since about half the world’s people now reach 70 years.

It’s believed, though, that COVID-19, now leads all deaths in several European countries, like France and the U.K., and several Latin American countries, like Brazil. In fact, the Americas and Europe, with one-quarter of the world’s people, have about 80 per cent of the world’s 5.5 million pandemic deaths.

Speaking of dying, but living longer, I still think of myself as 20-something. Apparently this is common as we ripen into old age. I’m actually three decades past 20-something, old enough to torment my three teenagers with ‘70s music. In either case, by the time you read this, with any good travel fortune, I’ll be in sub-Saharan Africa.

If I’m not it’s because I’ve either A) tested positive and never boarded the plane, or, B) boarded the plane only to have it fall from the sky or, C) had something else go wrong, leaving me curled up on some airport floor, wondering how the dog is doing. I’ll keep you posted later on my whereabouts, and well-being, and task-at-hand in my former Ugandan university home.

But in terms of danger, at least world pandemic danger, the interesting news is also that the pandemic is not the leading cause of death in much of Southeast Asia, or the Western Pacific, where, prior to vaccines, it was masking, strong contact tracing and early isolation of infected peoples (not mass lockdowns) that was a key plan of attack. Nor is COVID-19 leading deaths across Africa, including my specific Ugandan destination. Granted, developing nations under-report. Also, a younger African populace, exposed to various diseases, may be more resilient.

Still, yeah-yeah, I’ll get the raised eyebrow, the big question, like in the old days whenever I’d leave Canada. I’d visit the mall to pick up some shorts, and, sometimes, mention Uganda. “Really?” Then the predictable, “Is it safe?”

“Safe?” I’d respond. “Have you lost your mind?” Okay, I’d never say that. Sometimes I’d simply say, “No, it’s not safe. But, then again, life isn’t meant to be safe.”

This is what makes life good. It’s what helps us appreciate the days that we’re given. I mean, really. Life? Safe? For all its horrible grief, at the least the pandemic has burst that bubble.

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January 15, 2022 • Posted in
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3 thoughts on “Our life isn’t meant to be safe”

  1. Hi Thomas. I read your articles in the Spec regularly. My family was shocked today when my son, out of the blue, asked about the pediatrician that delivered him exactly 40 years ago in Windsor, Ontario. His name was Dr. Galiwango, from Uganda. That caused us to google his name and we were shocked with what we found. An outstanding doctor, with an approval rating of 4.8 out of 5, he retired from his profession in 2010 and he moved back to Uganda with his second wife, not the mother of his kids. They decided to build a new home there but when he planned a trip back to Toronto with his wife, to see his kids and grandkids, his wife cancelled her ticket, following an argument. He took a taxi from the house where they lived in Kampala to his new house, still under construction, and he was found dead the following morning. The mystery has never been solved.
    So, reading your article about Our Lives are not meant to be safe, made me think about this situation, and how violent Uganda may be.

  2. Thanks Doug. Sad story that hits close to home for you. For sure, life in Uganda can be unsafe. Still, very close to our home in Canada, a home was destroyed by a fire intentionally set to kill the senior husband and wife inside. They both died and their son is charged. Uganda. Canada. Is it safe anywhere?

  3. Hi Thom, I was just introduced to you through “99 Windows” from our church library, {we live in Tillsonburg, ON}. It was a challenging read. Unfortunately I have not been aware of your reporting before. I appreciate your insights. While living north of Huntsville I learned to know a John Froese and he became my running buddy when I was still in my 60’s. He has been a wonderful friend, except we don’t get cross paths very often in the last 15 years or so. International travel sure makes one appreciate little blessings.

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